Moon Morocco


By Lucas Peters

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Grand imperial cities, calm desert oases, Mediterranean beaches, and ancient history: experience an incredible crossroads of culture with Moon Morocco. Inside you’ll find:
  • Flexible itineraries including one week in Marrakesh, retreats to Fez, Casablanca, and the Sahara, mountain excursions, and the two-week best of Morocco
  • Strategic advice for history and culture buffs, beachgoers, adventure junkies, and more
  • Top sights and unique experiences: Cook your own traditional tajines in a restored riad or treat yourself to world-class French cuisine. Trek the soaring peaks and jaw-dropping valleys of Morocco’s four mountain ranges (by foot, or by mule!), or relax on miles of idyllic beaches. Sip refreshing mint tea and unwind in a traditional hammam, haggle at a busy souk, or explore one of Morocco’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Insight from Morocco expert Lucas Peters on how to support local and sustainable businesses, avoid crowds, and respectfully engage with the culture
  • Full-color, vibrant photos and detailed maps throughout
  • Reliable background on the landscape, climate, history, government, and cultural customs and etiquette, plus useful tips on public transportation, car and bike rentals, and air travel
  • Handy tools including Darija and French phrasebooks, visa information, and accommodations, and travel tips for families, seniors, travelers with disabilities, and LGBTQ travelers
With Moon’s practical advice and local know-how, you can experience the best of Morocco.

Sticking to Marrakesh? Try Moon Marrakesh & Beyond.


medina street in Asilah

decorative fountain in Rabat

Discover Morocco

Planning Your Trip


The Best of Morocco

Spiritual Pilgrimage


World Heritage Sites


Paradise Beach.

Labyrinthine medieval cities, fast-paced urban centers, long stretches of beach, sprawling desert, lush palm oases, and snowcapped mountains—Morocco offers enough to draw any traveler looking for a new vacation spot, but what makes it a must-do destination is the famed hospitality extended toward all visitors.

Morocco has long been a crossroads of culture. With its unique position in the northwest corner of Africa, just a few miles across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain, this is a true meeting of Europe and Africa, East and West, old and new.

If you’re looking for cultural immersion, the medinas (old, mud-walled cities) of Marrakech and Fez will transport you back a thousand years. Here you can experience Moroccan life as it has been lived for generations, with the muezzin’s call to prayer wafting over the maze of pedestrian-only alleys and sprawling squares where artisans create famed hand-crafted goods.

In the Sahara, blue-turbaned desert nomads lead camels through the sand dunes, past palm-lined oases to a series of Bedouin tents. In the Moroccan desert you can see the night sky at its most vivid, while sunrises and sunsets will leave you breathless.

the ornate woodwork of the Tijani Mosque in Fez

plates and scarves in the Ait Ben Haddou kasbah

a view of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech

Along the coast, the idyllic, artsy towns of Essaouira and Asilah are calm, relaxing spaces where the medina meets the ocean, the fresh catch is the plat du jour, and miles of unclaimed beach await. The chill town of Taghazoute is the surf capital, where you’re more likely to be greeted with a s’up than salaam ‘alaykoom.

Morocco’s four mountain ranges—the Rif, Middle Atlas, High Atlas, and Anti-Atlas—provide nature lovers with soaring peaks, jaw-dropping valleys and gorges, and winding mountain treks to explore by foot or by mule.

The more European cities of Rabat and Casablanca, as well as the ville nouvelles of most major cities, provide modern comforts and maintain an air of the French and Spanish protectorate era with wide boulevards, art deco architecture, sprawling urban gardens, elegant French-style bistros, and, in the north, the occasional tapas bar. Along the Mediterranean, the Spanish exclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are just a short border crossing away.

With Marrakech leading the way, Morocco has become one of the trendiest vacation destinations for travelers in the know. With its world-class hospitality and enough sights and sounds for travelers of all stripes, it’s easy to see why. So come, sip on a refreshing Moroccan mint tea, and start exploring this remarkable corner of Africa.

decorative tajines for spices

pouring tea in Erg Chebbi.

one of the bazaars in Chefchaouen

Planning Your Trip

Where to Go
Casablanca and the South Atlantic Coast

Casablanca is Morocco’s largest city, with art deco colonial-era buildings and a vibe that is distinctly all business. This cosmopolitan melting pot gives way to traditional Morocco in smaller cities such as Essaouira along the South Atlantic Coast, which also has some of the country’s warmest and most surf-friendly beaches.

a cat hanging out at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Rabat and the North Atlantic Coast

Along the North Atlantic Coast, the very European-feeling capital city of Rabat provides a gateway to a more relaxed stretch of secluded beaches and tranquil fishing ports along the coastline, the stunning Roman ruins of Lixus and Banasa, and the artsy coastal town of Asilah.

Tangier and the Mediterranean Coast

The days of the Interzone still ripple around the nooks of the Zoco Chico and along the cafés dotting the boulevards of the edgy port city of Tangier. The Mediterranean Coast hosts two Spanish exclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, while the Moroccan coastline is a popular destination in August for vacationing Moroccan families. The Rif is home to famous blue town of Chefchaouen, one of the most pleasant towns in all of Morocco, while the surrounding mountains offer opportunities for rock-climbing and trekking.

Fez and the Middle Atlas

The old medina of Fez is considered the world’s largest existing medieval city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spending a few days getting lost in its twisting passageways is a rite of passage for any traveler to Morocco. The nearby city of Meknes provides a medina experience with less confusion, while Volubilis is one of the most well-preserved former Roman cities in all of Africa. The Middle Atlas mountains are stunning, particularly in spring, with opportunities for nature lovers to mingle with locals and visit some less touristed places, such as picturesque Zaouia d’Ifrane, a quaint village with a backdrop of cascading waterfalls.


Europeans have long known the secret of Marrakech, and now the secret is out. With world-class dining, shopping, and nightlife, along with the more traditional experiences of the Moroccan hammam (bath), call to prayer, and confusing maze of souks, it is a true meeting of East and West, where the 24-hour carnival of the Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square, reigns over the nonstop parade in the center of it all. Marrakech is a strategic location for travelers, with easy access to the nearby High Atlas, coastal cities of Agadir and Essaouira, and the endless Sahara. It’s easy to see why Marrakech is one of the top vacation destinations in the world.

The High Atlas

The snowcapped peaks of the High Atlas can be seen from nearby Marrakech and in winter provide some of Africa’s best slopes for skiers. Toubkal National Park is one of the prettiest national parks, full of alpine trees and frothy rivers. It’s excellent for trekkers and hikers and a tranquil background for nature lovers looking for a getaway. Adventurous travelers should pack their skis, snowboards, ice picks, crampons, hiking boots, and binoculars to try to take in all that Morocco’s tallest mountains have to offer.

Ouarzazate and the Southern Oases

Take in the movie studios of Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Africa, before heading out to spend a night in the great sand sea of the Sahara. See the stars as you have never seen them before, seemingly in HD, then travel back in time through valleys of lush date palms lined with ksour (walled villages) and hike through the spectacular Dades and Todra Gorges.

When to Go

There is no set time to visit Morocco. However, it is a country with four distinct seasons, following other countries in the northern hemisphere with summer lasting June-August, fall September-November, winter December-February, and spring March-May.

During the summer, temperatures soar inland, in cities like Marrakech and Fez, making days unbearably hot and travel difficult, though this is the best time to be on the coast. August is a high travel month, with many Europeans and Moroccans having the month for vacation. Moroccan families crowd the Mediterranean beaches around Nador and Tetouan, as well as the North Atlantic Coast beaches of Essaouira and Larache, while Europeans flock to the packaged resort town of Agadir and other beaches along the South Atlantic Coast. The Sahara should be avoided during the summer, as travel is just too hot.

a row of Moroccan teapots

The beginning of fall is one of the better travel periods, after kids have gone back to school and the families have dispersed. Daytime temperatures aren’t so high, but the water is generally warm through September and it’s more than likely you’ll have an entire beach to yourself. Toward the end of fall the desert becomes cooler, with October generally being an excellent month for desert excursions. October and November are some of the lower travel months, so deals can sometimes be had with hotels, restaurants, and tours around this period.

December is becoming a trendy time to visit Morocco, with many holiday goers doing Christmas shopping in the medinas of Marrakech and Fez, though temperatures can be surprisingly chilly, especially at night. January typically kicks off the short ski season in Oukaïmeden, though the rest of the country is quieter, with some hotels and restaurants closing down for the month. In some destinations farther out, roads are sometimes washed out during the heavy seasonal rains.

shopping in a Marrakech souk

lounging outside a carpet bazaar in Essaouira

Spring is probably the best all-around time to visit. The mountain snows have cleared, valleys are in bloom, and the entire country north of the High Atlas seems to erupt in shades of green, while just beyond the tall peaks of the High Atlas range the not-too-distant Sahara is warming up for the summer. Traveling around the country is typically easier, and the drives through the Ziz Valley and along the “Road of 1,000 Kasbahs” offer views of stunning snowcapped peaks against lively palm fronds and mudbrick ksour (walled villages).

Festivals take place year-round, but some of the largest festivals happen in the spring and early fall. In May, you can find the Mawazine Festival happening in Rabat and the Rose Festival in Kalaat M’Gouna. In June is the largest festival in Morocco, the Sacred Music Festival in Fez. In September, the Tanjazz music festival is held in Tangier and the Marriage Festival takes place in Imilchil. In late fall (late Nov. or early Dec.), the International Film Festival takes place in Marrakech.

Ramadan and Other Islamic Holidays

The busiest travel times for Moroccans, outside of the August vacation, revolve around the Islamic calendar, with the two largest holidays being the holy month of fasting, Ramadan, and the biggest holiday of the year, Eid al-Adha.

During the month of Ramadan, Moroccans are fasting throughout from sunrise to sunset. Many businesses are closed, including restaurants, and traveling around the country by public transport can be difficult with many delays in service. The exact dates of Ramadan are not known in Morocco until a sighting of the moon by religious officials. Roughly speaking, Ramadan should fall between May 27 and June 25 in 2017 and between May 16 and June 14 in 2018. The end of Ramadan is marked by Eid al-Fitr, often called Eid es-Seghir or the “little holiday.”

The biggest holiday in Morocco is Eid al-Adha, often called plainly the “big holiday” or Eid al-Kabir. It is a three-day festival that occurs two moon cycles after the end of Ramadan and is the biggest feast in the country, marking when Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to sacrifice his son for God. Trains, public buses, and grand taxis are impossibly full directly before and after this festival.

For Muslims and non-Muslims curious about Islam, traveling during Ramadan or any of the other religious holidays, even with the traveling hiccups and delays, can be a rewarding experience. Many mosques have all-night dikr, a kind of spiritual chanting done in a group, while many families will open their doors to entertain guests. Some of the liveliest nights in Morocco happen during Ramadan.

Know Before You Go
Passports and Visas

Travelers to Morocco who intend to visit as tourists for less than 90 days only need to present a valid passport upon entry. Customs officials will stamp a valid 90-day tourist visa in your passport, though they demand that the passport be valid for at least six months beyond your entry date. However, this isn’t typically problematic. For stays of longer than 90 days, you will need to request a visa from the nearest Moroccan embassy or consulate in your home country. Some travelers arrange for exits through the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta or Melilla when they are close to their 90-day limit and reenter the country with another 90 days. Students and employees traveling to the country for studies or work should be assisted by the Moroccan-based university, school, or employer through the visa process, which generally happens after you have entered the country on a 90-day tourist visa.


There are no obligatory vaccination requirements for visiting Morocco. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends travelers to have all of their basic vaccinations updated. The CDC recommends that travelers have hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines. Additionally, outdoor adventure types and children should consider having a rabies vaccination before traveling, particularly if planning on trekking through the national parks of the Middle Atlas or High Atlas.

a grinning camel outside the Tinghir kasbah


Most travelers from North America will arrive by plane to the Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca. Nonstop flights connect with New York and Montreal, though most flights layover in Europe. European travelers have a selection of direct flights with connections from most major European capitals to Agadir, Fez, Marrakech, Rabat, and Tangier. Though there are a few nonstop national flights from Casablanca to Agadir, Fez, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Tangier via the national carrier Royal Air Maroc, most travelers use a combination of intercity buses, trains, taxis, and car rentals to move around the country.

Rue Allal Ben Abdellah in downtown Casablanca

From Spain and France, it is possible to enter the country by ferry via Tangier or the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, where you will then cross the land border into Morocco.

Travel within the country is mostly done by train, bus, and car. There are two primary train lines. The first line connects down the Atlantic Coast from Tangier to Casablanca and then turns inland to Marrakech. The other follows a northeast trajectory from Casablanca through Fez to Oujda in the northeastern corner of the country. Between cities not connected by train there are local and private buses, as well as grand taxis that connect cities and towns. Renting a car provides more mobility to travelers, and the roads in Morocco are in generally good condition, though lighting is an issue for night driving.

In major cities, petit taxis and public buses circulate town, with the inexpensive petit taxis being the most used by travelers and locals. Casablanca and Rabat also have new tram lines that make connections and most major stops through the city. Sightseeing is generally done on foot, as most of the old medinas of Morocco are pedestrian pathways.

The Best of Morocco

See everything Morocco has to offer, from the great imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, and Rabat to the calm oases of the desert. Relax on the beaches along the Atlantic Coast and literally walk through Roman history in Volubilis. If you have less time, prioritize Marrakech, Essaouira, and the desert excursion. This can be done in as little as 10 days.


Arrive in the afternoon at the Mohammed V International Airport outside of Casablanca and take the train into town. Get cozy in a beachfront hotel, or a boutique hotel like Le Doge. Treat yourself to a night out at one of the myriad five-star dining options, such as Brasserie la Bavaroise, and sleep off any jet lag.


In the morning, take a tour of the Hassan II Mosque and catch an afternoon train for Marrakech. Check into a restored riad, such as Dar Najat or the friendly hostel Hotel Central Palace in the old medina for a three-night stay. Spend the night walking around the giant plaza Jemaa el-Fnaa, taking in the circus-like atmosphere with monkey handlers and snake charmers, and eat dinner back at your riad.

the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca


After breakfast and a fresh orange juice, take a tour of the sights, including the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, and Marrakech Museum, before lunch. Spend the afternoon walking around the souks and getting lost. For dinner, experiment with Moroccan fusion cuisine in a restored riad like Pepe Nero.


Tour some of the famed gardens of Marrakech, such as the Menara Gardens, perhaps by horse-drawn carriage, and have lunch in the Ville Nouvelle, Marrakech’s new town, on the hipster strip of Rue de la Liberté. Spend the afternoon in the Ville Nouvelle exploring some of the shops and cafés, but be sure to purchase your bus ticket for the following day to Essaouira. As darkness falls, head back to the Koutoubia Mosque, which comes alive when lit up at night, and have dinner at one of the food stalls on the Jemaa el-Fnaa. Spend a last night in your riad or hostel.


In the morning, take the two-hour bus trip to Essaouira and look out for goats eating argan nuts from the trees. Settle in for three nights in the old medina at Riad Malaïka or the Atlantic Hostel Woodstock. Have lunch at one of the more eclectic restaurants, such as the eco-friendly Shyadma’s Vegan Food. Explore the medina and start souvenir shopping and getting to know a few of the artists, like the metal sculptor Rachid Mourabit. Catch the sunset from the ramparts, and for dinner treat yourself to a night at the funkily delicious Elizir.

Essaouira ramparts


Pack your swimsuits and towels for a day on the beach. Consider taking a windsurfing class or taking a boat out to the Îles Purpuraires for some bird-watching. For lunch, head to the port and order some fresh grilled fish at the stand there or duck into Chez Sam for some simple, fresh seafood. In the afternoon, hike down the beach for a bit more privacy, or consider taking a beachside gallop with one of the horses or camels available.


Get ready to go to cooking class. Spend the day preparing your own tajines, salads, and desserts at La Table Madada, where chef Mouna will have you slicing, dicing, and simmering your way to a delicious Moroccan meal. Enjoy the fruits of your labors and your last night in this magical coastal retreat.

If you want to trek to the summit of Jbel Toubkal in the High Atlas, go to Day 8. If you want to continue on, go to Day 13.

Excursion: Trekking the High Atlas

Catch the morning bus for Marrakech. Think about spending the night at one of the palatial hotels, like the Es Saadi Gardens and Resort, and pamper yourself in the spa service there or at the Baan Thai Institute as preparation for the hard days ahead.

the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech


Meet your mountain guide at the hotel. Take the two-hour drive to Imlil. Have lunch and spend the afternoon gearing up for the two-day trek to summit Jbel Toubkal, then have a good night of sleep at the Imlil Lodge.

DAY 10

After a hearty mountain breakfast, trek up through Tizi n’Mazik pass to the village of Tamsoult, where dinner and a comfortable bed await your arrival.

DAY 11

From Tamsoult, hike to the stunning Irhoulidene Waterfalls, break for lunch, and then take mules to Aguelzim before continuing a trek to the mountain base camp to spend the night at the foot of the summit.

DAY 12

After breakfast, ascend Jbel Toubkal. Have a picnic atop the summit or descend and have lunch at the base camp before continuing back to Imlil or Armed for a well-earned night of sleep.

Ouarzazate and the Southern Oases
DAY 13

Be prepared for a long day of travel. Catch the morning bus to Marrakech, and then catch the first bus to Ouarzazate. Have dinner at French bistro Accord Majeur and tour the Hotel Le Berbere Palace next door, keeping an eye out for visiting movie stars. Check in for two nights at the budget-friendly Hotel Atlas or the charming Le Petit Riad.

a desert camp in the Sahara

DAY 14

Spend the morning touring the Atlas and CLA movie studios and in the afternoon make your way to the impressive, still functioning, kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou. Have dinner back in your riad or make it a real kasbah day and dine at La Kasbah des Sables.

DAY 15

Catch the bus or drive through the oasis of Skoura, along the


On Sale
Dec 24, 2019
Page Count
544 pages
Moon Travel

Lucas Peters

About the Author

Lucas Peters first landed in Morocco in 2009. He came for a new career, teaching English Literature, and a new adventure in a new country. He had lived in different parts of Europe and the US, but never in Africa before. He didn’t count on starting this new life from complete scratch, but that is exactly what he had to do when none of his luggage arrived with him. He spent his first two weeks in Morocco in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, shopping in markets for food, clothing and other basic necessities without speaking a word of the local language. His unexpected, sudden immersion in Moroccan life made him fall in love with the country.
Since 2009, Lucas has been traveling Morocco, from the date groves of the Sahara to the fishing villages along the Atlantic Coast. He’s dined at Rick’s Café in Casablanca, caught a ride on the Marrakesh Express, gotten lost in the labyrinthine maze of the Fez medina more times than he cares to count, and followed the Beats in Tangier. Along the way, he picked up some of the languages that make Morocco so amazing, made a few great friends, and married his wife, a Tanjaioua from Tangier.
Though Lucas no longer teaches professionally, his travel writing has led him to manage one of Morocco’s most successful sustainable tour operators, Journey Beyond Travel. He lives full-time in Tangier with his wife and two kids. Together, as a multi-lingual family, they continue to explore Morocco: the small towns dotting the national roads, the difficult-to-access mountain villages, secluded beaches, and vibrant, twisting passages of the old medinas.

Learn more about this author